I first began blogging in 2001, and from time to time will excerpt from some of the posts, just for fun. Comments will precede the posts. Like this: Bellingham, Washington, summer of 2001. My mother and husband are no longer living. I didn't yet have a digital camera. Mom (Ethel Crook) treated Jack and me and brother David Crook to an all-day excursion on a Killer Whale Search / Nature Watch Cruise on The Island Caper. We packed a delicious lunch and headed for the ship, docked at Bellingham Bay, and finally left the slip after all 60 or so passengers were aboard. The captain and and the naturalist provided us with a memorable day. We had brilliant nature lessons often followed by complete quiet as the boat slowed down to give us access to some seal rocks, or the habitat of a bald eagle. They knew all the orca (killer) whale pods by a letter identification, and that day we watched the antics of whales from two pods, J and K. Getting a good photo is almost impossible. Every time I had my camera pointed at a spot where a whale had just appeared, another, nearby, would joyfully leap out of the water. I'd move my camera, but almost always too late. Oh well. Nothing can erase my memories of their playful, and trusting natures! Marshall Brain has an entire section on How Whales Work, replete with photos, charts, and sounds, at How Stuff Works. The section also offers links to other quality whale-related sites Parhelic Circles In a different vein, seeing two parhelic circles filled everyone on the boat with a sense of awe. The photo to the right shows two circles (the lower one is less brilliant than the one closest to the sun). "What happens," says naturalist David Given-Seymour, "is similar to what happens when you hang a crystal in the window of your home. Sunlight hits the crystal and, as it passes through it, is refracted (bent) so that the red light waves are bent at a slightly different angle than the blue light waves. "Thus, they are separated and become visible, with the red waves appearing closer to the sun than the blue waves. The crystals in this case are made of ice and are found only in the upper reaches of the atmosphere."
This past week I visited the Wildlife World Zoo & Aquarium in Litchfield Park, AZ. I've been visiting for at least 20 years, and each time I leave I am impressed with the changes from the previous visit. Always well thought out to delight the public, and children of all ages. On this visit, I saw many new completed projects and postings of new features to come. Loved Dragon World. Often-dangerous subjects: a photographer's dream. Meaning many exotic creatures, like a 28-foot-long Reticulated Python, separated from the viewers by thick glass. Watched probably the longest snake move from a long thin line into a relaxed, curled up position. My brother took a video of it. The ever-so-slow movement itself was fascinating, and so was the amazing design. Wikipedia says, "Like all pythons, they are nonvenomous constrictors and normally not considered dangerous to humans." Yeah. Right. We spent three hours photographing many exhibits, but were too tired (and hungry) to continue on to the aquarium area, which is simply humongous. And fascinating. Next week, perhaps.
Last Thursday I had the honor of being present at the Arizona court of Appeals Division One Investiture of Randall M. Howe. I've known Randy for years as a fellow board member of Arizona Center for Disability Law, and he was president at the time he was given this honor. The ceremony was held at the Disability Empowerment Center. The center itself is remarkable, and well worth visiting. The ceremony was wonderful: emotionally moving, and (for me) educational. After the ceremony, we went to the reception in the Virginia G. Piper Sports and Fitness Center. We were in one-half of the entire gymnasium, which is a work of art. The entire facility is breathtaking. When I think of people like Virginia Piper and Nina Pulliam who gave so generously to support the community in so many different ways, I stand in awe of them. But I digress. Seeing a person of the caliber of Randy Howe sworn in to the Court of Appeals is a moment I will always treasure. We as citizens are blessed to have Randy Howe on the bench.
My daughter, Shannon, has been climbing/hiking a number of 14ers recently with her faithful Golden Retriever, Sunny. here are some pictures she took or had taken by fellow hikers. Colorado has 54 mountain peaks exceeding 14,000 feet (known as "fourteeners" or "14ers" by locally) — the most of any state. Outdoor enthusiasts of all skill levels will find peaks ranging from easy to very difficult, with hiking trails for exploring the state's scenery, wildlife and rugged beauty. The first shot taken about 6:30 a.m. just as the sun is rising: Gray's and Torrey's. The remaining photos are of Shannon and Sunny and another dog. She held the leash while the dog owner shot the picture. And what did Shannon say upon her return? "GREAT hike of both peaks; perfect autumn day...the aspens are changing...beautiful...drove up this morning to Denver and then up into the mountains that way and then drove back through the mountains...nice drive back...but I am BEAT. No kidding.